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Local SEO for Law Firms
NextLevel's local SEO services can really put your law firm on the map - Google's map, that is.
Imagine prospective clients typing "lawyer" into a search engine and seeing your law firm at the top of the search results. Your office location is conspicuously highlighted on a map - they can't miss it. They realize that you live and work in the same community they do. You're practically neighbors - and who better to trust your legal case to than a respected attorney in your own neighborhood?
It's all possible with a bit of digital marketing magic we call local SEO.
The acronym SEO, so often tossed around by marketers, stands for search engine optimization. It means strategically updating and building out your online presence, with both on-site and off-site efforts, to improve how your site ranks in non-paid, or organic, search results delivered by Google and other search engines.
SEO is necessary to gain client leads from Google searches, especially in the competitive field of attorney marketing. With hundreds of millions of results showing up for a simple search term like "lawyer," your law firm's website could easily disappear into the rarely-visited results listed beyond the first few pages.
What makes it so desirable to rank for lawyer-related search terms is the fact that you know searchers are actively looking for an attorney. That makes these potential leads far more valuable than those sought through traditional advertising efforts, which can't target individuals seeking a lawyer.
The Local Pack for Lawyers
Local SEO is slightly different from organic SEO. When a searcher types a keyword into Google, it isn't only organic results and paid ads that appear. For many search terms, including some of those most highly-prized by attorneys, Google displays a map of the most relevant nearby companies based on that individual's geographical location. We call this the "local pack."
To some degree, Google's local pack is based on pure proximity to the searcher. However, optimizing your website and web presence for local SEO is crucial if you want the chance to appear in the local pack.
Although the local pack used to show more results, Google now limits the local pack to just three entries. If Google doesn't recognize you as one of the top three most relevant answers to the searcher's query, your law firm won't make the cut. It's very likely that another competitor - perhaps one right down the street - will steal the cases you're most eager to acquire.
Local SEO FAQs
What Makes Local SEO Different From Organic SEO?
Local SEO applies some of these same concepts and strategies of optimizing your web presence for search engines to the challenge of making it into this competitive local 3-pack. While the work needed for local SEO is different from that of organic SEO, the goal is still to show Google that your site deserves a high ranking in its search results.
How can NextLevel boost your local SEO to get you into Google's local 3-pack? Some of the work is technical, adding specific markup code to your website to better help search engines understand and interpret your website. Some is simple, but time-consuming, like identifying all of the possible relevant legal directories to which your law firm should belong and adding your name, address, phone number - referred to as your NAP - and website to those sites.
Other aspects of local SEO require a great deal of strategic thinking and experience in the field. These challenges include developing approaches for how to handle firms with multiple locations or multiple attorneys in one location and garnering the favorable reviews that will make your law firm stand out, without going against Google's guidelines.
Fortunately, NextLevel has the experience and the capacity to handle every aspect of your local SEO. You can reap all of the benefits without devoting your own priceless hours to trying desperately to move the needle on the local pack.
Do I Have to Do Both Local SEO and Organic SEO?
NextLevel develops customized products, strategies, and packages for our clients, so you don't have to do anything you don't want to. That said, yes, we do recommend that most law firms integrate both local SEO and organic SEO into their digital marketing strategies.
Here's why: Despite the similarities in their names, local SEO and organic SEO are two different beasts. Both appear as non-paid results of online searches, but they appear in different places. Local SEO revolves around optimizing your web presence to appear in the three-pack of results listed in Google's map result. Organic SEO allows your site to rise to top-ranking spots in the regular, non-map Google search results page.
What this means is that choosing to work on only one kind of SEO - local or organic - means that you will (not might - will!) miss out on improving your overall optimization and ability to acquire new client leads.
The local pack only includes results near the searcher. No amount of improvement of your law firm's local SEO will enable you to show up in the local pack for a searcher the next county over. You still practice there, and you still want to acquire that client lead - but organic SEO is your only way, aside from paid advertisements, that the searcher will find your business.
On the other hand, focusing on organic SEO only can mean that you're losing out on valuable cases right in your area. In local SEO, you're competing only with attorneys in the same geographical region, not every attorney in the state or across the nation. It should be easier to rise to the top of local SEO rankings - and with the right strategy, it is.
Working with a senior legal marketing consultant at NextLevel can help you understand your options for both local and organic SEO. Let's talk about a customized strategy fits your law firm perfectly.
If your fear is that your law firm can't afford a professionally managed campaign for both local and organic SEO, you might be surprised. Many of NextLevel's current clients had previously worked with huge attorney marketing companies that charged high rates for cookie-cutter marketing strategies. Switching to us allowed them to get better results, more responsive client service, and more personalized strategies, all while spending less than they had previously spent.
How Much Do Reviews Matter in Local SEO?
You may already know that reviews can affect whether potential clients choose you to represent them. In fact, you probably rely on online reviews yourself in many of your personal purchasing decisions. What you might not know is that the quantity and quality of your online reviews, especially Google reviews, can affect your local SEO performance.
Google gives preference in local rankings to businesses that have both a good number of reviews and a positive rating. The search engine is serving up information to searchers, and reviews serve as proof that a business is a credible answer to the searcher's problem or query.
If your law firm has few Google reviews, the search engine doesn't recognize it as equally credible as a firm with many reviews. Naturally, if your reviews are negative, searchers who see them are less likely to visit your law firm's website to learn more about you. This tells Google that you aren't what searchers are looking for.
Does this mean the solution is to rush out and try to gather reviews en masse at any cost? No! While you want reviews, you also need to make sure that you are following Google's guidelines and industry best practices for asking for reviews. You never want to harass clients into reviewing your law firm (which, among other things, can cause them the give you a negative rating, even if they were happy with your work). You never want to violate Google's guidelines, either.
Instead, you want to work with an experienced partner like NextLevel to develop an appropriate and effective review outreach program that gets the results you want, without risking unwanted and unintended consequences.
Why Outsource Your Local SEO Efforts
Local SEO for law firms is a powerful tool, but you must use it correctly. Dabbling in local optimization yourself without knowing what you're doing could be disastrous.
The Biggest Mistakes in Local SEO for Law Firms
Precision and discretion are critical in launching and carrying out a local SEO policy. So is taking the time to do the work right. For most attorneys, especially those in charge of managing the law firm's operations, this momentous task takes up far more time than you can afford to spend yourself.
You may be tempted to delegate it to an employee who isn't an expert at digital marketing - but that's where these qualities of precision and discretion come in. Someone who doesn't have experience in local SEO best practices may think a minor difference in the appearance of your law firm's address between directories is "close enough." Without being fully immersed in the world of lawyer directories, that individual can't possibly discern between a valuable directory listing and a spammy one.
By trying to handle local SEO on their own or outsourcing the task to the cheapest citation service around, law firms are doing themselves a major disservice. We've seen firsthand how much damage a bad local SEO campaign can do. We're talking hours wasted on fixing NAP mistakes. Hundreds of dollars spent for inclusion in shady directories that only drag down your reputation. And let's not forget the missed opportunities as potential clients find your competitors, not you, in the local 3-pack.
- When it comes to local SEO, a single mistake - a directory listing that doesn't exactly match your address listed on Google, for example - could be a fatal flaw that keeps your law firm out of the local pack. Choosing a full-service legal marketing company that knows the stakes can prevent mismatches that lose you search traffic. Giving the task to an inexperienced employee or a citation company that does local SEO "on the cheap" is almost asking for trouble.
- Not all directory backlinks are equal. Google is skilled at differentiating legitimate, credible directory sites from sketchy, low-quality sites. While citation services will serve you up the largest possible volume of citations you could pursue, they only do this by casting a dangerously wide net. You don't need a list of thousands of websites to comb through, trying to find the good ones. Instead, you need a smarter local SEO management service like NextLevel's. We'll identify which citation opportunities are worthwhile and make sure your firm is listed in all the best directories - not the bad ones that could weaken your online reputation.
Who Should You Trust With Your Local SEO?
Spammy backlinks, irrelevant directory listings, mismatched citations - we've seen it all. It's a consequence of inexperience, of distraction, of rushing to squeeze the task into your higher-value work. Some attorneys pay good money to bad companies that care less about the quality of the work than about just getting it done - even if it's not done right.
You can't afford to trust just anyone with your law firm's local SEO. Your citations, directory listings, website markup, and other aspects of your local online presence are reflections of your reputation and your law firm's competence. It's a matter to take seriously - not one to hand off to the lowest bidder.
NextLevel's local SEO services have garnered real results for our clients - and it didn't happen by accident.
It takes diligence and discipline to ensure that every listing of your law firm's NAP is 100% accurate. We draw from our extensive experience handling attorney marketing exclusively as we strategically search for the best opportunities for getting local links for your law firm. As search engines like Google continually change their ranking factors, we constantly evaluate our strategies and industry best practices so that you are always on the cutting edge of local SEO practices.
The results? Our clients see measurable improvements in their performance in local searches. They report a greater number of leads and improved quality of leads. Our references speak for themselves.
We'll get your local SEO up to speed and start bringing in brand new leads from the local pack - and the best part is, you don't have to lift a finger.